Violet tells the simple tale of a woman who was scarred at a young age and has set off to get that scar healed by an evangelical preacher who she saw on TV. From that basic story comes a night of powerful theater, with amazing performances by Sutton Foster and Joshua Henry in particular, and a very talented cast of actors and musicians.
Violet’s setting is the early 1960s and the action begins in North Carolina. Foster brings so many shades of emotion to her role as a woman who has been looked at with pity since she was scarred at 13. She uses her hair as a shield but she is also proud and funny. She demands that people don’t turn away from her – and with her powerful voice we can’t help but listen. Her story is told in a “flashback” as her younger self (a talented Emerson Steele) interacts with her father.
On the bus going to find the preacher, Violet meets two soldiers – the handsome and confident Monty and another outsider, Flick. An African-American man in the early 1960’s Flick, like Violet, is used to having people treat him a certain way. Henry has one of the night’s big musical numbers and his voice soars as he sings of his experiences. But he and Violet initially can’t connect.
The ensemble moves in and out of roles – there’s the kindly woman on the bus who later becomes a floozy in Memphis and the bus driver who is the preacher. The music is a combination of gospel, country and Memphis rock-and-roll and everyone hits all the right notes. Violet leaves the audience feeling wistful and hopeful at the same time. AFW
Roundabout Theater Company American Airlines Theatre 207 W 42nd Street
Runs through August 10th
Discounts available through Theatermania (http://www.theatermania.com/broadway/discount-tickets/violet_301407/) & BroadwayBox (http://www.broadwaybox.com/shows/violet/)